The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

40% Whole Wheat: Bread Flour vs. Spelt, a side-by-side comparison

davidg618's picture
davidg618

40% Whole Wheat: Bread Flour vs. Spelt, a side-by-side comparison

I've been reading a lot lately about Spelt flour. My interest was sparked by a seemingly Spelt flour interest-spike among TFLer's, and that I've never baked with Spelt. I've also been wanting to create a 40% Whole Wheat sandwich sourdough bread. We routinely bake a pan-shaped 40% whole wheat straight dough, we're very happy with; however, I wanted a similar, but free-form baked sourdough primarily for grilled sandwiches. I thought it would be fun to do a side-by-side comparison, substituting Spelt flour for the Bread Flour, leaving everything else unchanged, and keeping my dough techniques as nearly identical as possible.


Here's my formula:


Levain:


11 g seed starter (refrigerated, feed every two weeks or more frequently) fed 1:1:1 three time over twenty-four hours yielding 300 g ripe levain. Whole wheat flour used for all builds (represents 16% of total dough flour); levain hydration 100%.


Final doughs:


140 g ripe levain (from above)       16% of total flour contributed


105 g Whole Wheat flour               24%


265 g Bread or Spelt flour             60%


305 g Water                                 70% (includes 70g from levain)


 9 g Salt                                        2%


11 g Olive oil (1 Tbs)                      2.5% 


Procedures: (for both doughs)


Hand-mixed all ingredients to bowl side-cleaning ball; 30 minute rest; French-fold until dough passed window-pane test; retarded bulk proof for five hours @ 55°F with one Stretch and Fold at 45 mins. (The retardation was done only to accomadate my schedule.) Removed from chiller, preshaped, and further bulk proofed at 76°F for two hours. Shaped two batards, and final proofed for one and one-half hours. Scored, and loaded into pre-steamed oven, at 500°F. Immediately lowered oven temperature to 450°F. Baked first ten minutes with steam, removed steam source and vented oven, finished baking: spelt flour loaf 15 more minutes, bread flour loaf 17 more minutes. Cooled completely.


Although these doughs are relatively high hydration, because of the high protein flours the doughs formed soft balls. From the beginning these doughs were different to the touch. Both exhibited comparitive extensibility, but the Bread flour's gluten developed noticeably stronger than the Spelt flour's.  The Bread flour dough shaped more tightly than the spelt flour, proofed more firmly, and exhibited more oven spring.


Obviously, the Bread flour loaf is in the foreground.



The crumb. The bread flour loaf's crumb, while closed (as desired) is lighter, and softer than the spelt flour crumb which borders on the edge of 'dense".



My wife and I taste-tested both breads. The bread flour loaf exhibited the familiar whole-wheat flavor we both like, and the crumb was soft, again as we like in a sandwich bread. The spelt flour loaf had an agreeable flavor--I presume "it" is the flavor of spelt flour--but the whole wheat flour flavor seemed entirely masked.  We shared a second slice of each, but our impressions didn't change. We like them both, but the bread flour formula will stay in our repetoire; spelt flour will have to wait for another formula, another day.


David G


Following the advice of a couple of you, today I baked a 40% whole spelt flour version. Its dough was considerably more slack than the 40% whole wheat flour, everything being the same except for the spelt flour. Consequently, I wasn't able to shape it as tightly, and it spread more during final proofing. Nonetheless, it had comparable oven spring--the crumb appears more open than the whole wheat version.


We like the flavor; it's more subtle than the whole-wheat presence in the alternative loaf. I think for now, we'll keep this formula in our book, and look for a local source for white spelt flour.


The loaf:



and the crumb.



Thank you all for sharing your expertise and advice.


David G.


 

Comments

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, David.


Thanks for sharing your experiement. Both loaves look very nice.


I would just point out that, assuming you were using whole spelt, a better comparison would have been to sub the spelt for the whole wheat. The way you did it, you have one 40% whole grain bread compared to a 100% whole grain bread.


How about it?


David

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I get what you're telling me, but your comments contradict what I've read. Nothing I've read, written and published by the "experts", equates Spelt to whole grain flours. To the contrary, I've encountered mostly comparisons emphasizing similarities with wheat flours. Perhaps, I'm misreading, but the term 'whole wheat" hasn't appeared in my references, simply 'wheat flour" is compared. Yet another ambiguity?


Nonetheless, I'm going to take yours, and arlo's, suggestions and try a 40% spelt and bread flour with the same seed starter--my favorite of three--but fed with spelt during the levain builds. Stay tuned.


Flour characteristics aside, it's primarily flavor I'm chasing, and spelt combined with whole wheat hasn't impressed my taste buds. Perhaps spelt and bread or AP flour will.


David G

korish's picture
korish

I agree with David, Try to substitude the whole wheat with spelt It should produce a great bread.


 


Last night I tried Whole Wheat instead of White bread flour and my breads just whent all over the place.


 


You can see the failure here.


http://www.ourwholesomehomes.com

arlo's picture
arlo

Or try using 'white spelt flour', similar to white flour but sifted whole spelt creating a similar consistency to white flour, or all purpose. In place of the bread flour in each loaf use white spelt, and then using the standard whole wheat in each loaf as normal would be a fun comparison! Other than that, thanks for the pics and info!


I love spelt flour myself. At my bakery I bake muffins, cookies on occasion and 100% spelt loaves and rolls once a week. The loaves have a nice sweet taste to them from the fact they are 100% spelt and the mixed berry spelt muffins are in a category all of their own as well too! Keep experimenting!

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Where do I find that?


David G.

korish's picture
korish

I know Bobs Red mill hase white spelt but it's expensive.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, David.


I can get both whole grain spelt flour and white spelt flour at Whole Foods. Giusto's packages both, and I think Bob's Red Mill does, too. KAF might. I don't recall, but it's easy enough to check.


If I read "wheat flour," in the USofA, I'd assume AP, e.g., white. When I read "spelt" or "rye" or "kamut" flour, I assume the whole grain flour is meant. Maybe that's incorrect.


David

davidg618's picture
davidg618

being still new to a lot of things in the bread world, I didn't have this nuance. Thanks for the information. KAF sells whole spelt and white splet. I've never looked in that part of the catalogue before now. $4.95/1 lb: that's expensive.


Don't want to start a whole thread about it, but I'd be curious to know your preferences in flours. I live in north-central Florida. If it ain't about horses or cattle or the Gators football team, their's darn little nuance (or choices) to be found. I have to buy all my specialty flours online, except for Arrowhead Mills products, or small, 1 lb., bags of Bob's Red Mill products, which I drive 70 miles, round trip, to get from an organic products/health food store. To date, online I've relied soley on King Arthur. Price is secondary for me, I'm more interested in flavor, baking characteristics, and consistency.


Your on my short list of TFL mentors; that's why I'm asking you.


David G.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

That's a hard one. It depends on the kind of bread I'm making. I use KAF products more than others. Whole Foods in my area gets its bulk flours from Giusto's. Their house brand packaged flours come from Central Milling, which is owned by the Giusto family. Their AP flour seems as good as KAF's.  I get some specialty flours from Bob's Red Mill. etc.


David

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I've located a Whole Foods store in NE Orlando. That's about 90 miles one way from here, but I make a trip to the area every three months or so for wine and beer making supplies; next trip I'll check it out.


I try to avoid buying flour online, except when I can't find a source. I buy in such small quantity shipping nearly doubles the cost.


David G